Raising the Stakes on Corporate Responsibility in France

France CR and Sustainability

About the Study:

France CR RepTrak is a survey based on more than 38,000 ratings from the Informed General Public in France, collected in January-February 2018. It ranks French and multi-national companies based on their performance in Corporate Responsibility (CR). 

At RI, we define CR as performance in the dimensions of Citizenship, Governance, and Workplace. This data helps companies understand the state of corporate responsibility globally and by country, their standing in it, as well as how corporate responsibility directly impacts business results. 

Corporate Responsibility Ranking

In 2018, two companies – native Decathlon and Danish LEGO Group – manage to attain a strong CR score in France. Among the Top 50 in CR, those ranked 3rd to 48th are in the average range with the final two companies showing a weak CR score. 

Among the top 10, Netflix joins the list as a new company. Google, Siemens, Barilla and Canon rise up the rank to join the top 10, while BIC, Philips, Colgate-Palmolive, Metro AG, Rolex, and Danone drop down in ranks. 

Figure 1: 2018 France CR RepTrak® Top 10 Companies

Figure 1: 2018 France CR RepTrak® Top 10 Companies

 

2018 France Corporate Responsibility Highlights

Decathlon

The most reputable company in France for 2018 is also the company with the highest CR score. Ranked number 1 two years in a row, Decathlon is also the only company to be in the top 3 for the three dimensions of CR: Citizenship, Governance, and Workplace.
 
As a company, Decathlon is a leader in societal contribution and its mission statement completely aligns with the four variables of corporate responsibility (economic, social, environmental, employee): 

"Our sustainable development challenges are directly tied to the actions inherent to our business activity, which have an immediate impact on our environment, society, and on the men and women who work with us." - Decathlon 2017 Sustainable Development Report

Groupe SEB

In 2018 Groupe SEB drops from 2nd to 4th place in CR with a reputation score of 69.3.  Across the three dimensions of CR, Groupe SEB is one of the top companies in the area of Workplace. Digging deeper into the attributes of CR, SEB is perceived as being fair in the way it does business and its positive influence in society. This aligns with SEBs efforts to be a good corporate citizen by focusing on sustainable innovation in all aspects of its business. 

Danone and a Case Study in Corporate Responsibility  

Since 2012 Danone’s CR score has fluctuated between the strong and average range, and in 2018 it lands in the latter in 18th place. Although Danone stands out for its good Citizenship, it is a company that hasn’t received full recognition among the General Public for its efforts in CR (ex. One Planet, One Health initiative in 2017).  

Nevertheless, among those respondents who are aware of Danone’s work in CR, the company sees a reputational and CR payoff. Specifically, among those familiar with Danone’s latest efforts towards sustainable and healthy farming methods, Journée du 21 Septembre ‘Je sais, J’agis,' Danone has a 5.3-point lift in its CR index and a 4.4-point lift in reputation.

Figure 2: Danone Custom Journée du 21 Septembre ‘Je sais, J’agis ’ Study (September 2018)

Figure 2: Danone Custom Journée du 21 Septembre ‘Je sais, J’agis ’ Study (September 2018)

What We Learned from Our 2018 Data

The General Public is demanding that companies serve a greater purpose beyond their products and services. To earn and maintain a strong to excellent reputation, organizations must deliver on social, fiscal, environmental, and employer of choice status. With these growing demands, we find that reputation is less about Corporate Social Responsibility and more about a holistic approach to Corporate Responsibility. The social part, by itself, is restrictive. Yes, organizations are pressed to do the right thing in the social arena, but increasingly in other key areas as well.  

Figure 3: A New Era of Corporate Responsibility (more than only Social)

Figure 3: A New Era of Corporate Responsibility (more than only Social)

In France, CR specifically accounts for 43.2% of a company's reputation. Companies that deliver on sustainable development goals (SDGs) and sustainable, social, and economic KPIs consistently capture an abundance of media attention in France (see Figure 4). With the global decline in the public’s perception of companies’ delivery on CR down by 2.1-points and a 3.7-point decline in France – delivering on CR is now more important than ever. 

Figure 4: News That Marked CR in 2017 in France

Figure 4: News That Marked CR in 2017 in France

How Companies Can Succeed in CR in France


Set a foundation of trust. Similar to global trend, companies in France that lead in CR have earned greater levels of trust from stakeholders. CR helps companies establish foundations for, mitigate, and repair trust. But the connection between trust and CR is yet to be established in the eyes of the General Public. This remains a true opportunity for companies to impact their overall reputation while being impactful, responsible, and trustworthy. 

Strong CR means strong reputation. We define reputation as an emotional connection between organizations and their key stakeholders. Leaders in CR maintain a stronger emotional connection (+4.1-points for companies in the Top 10 in CR) compared to performance in the 7 dimensions of reputation i.e. what companies do rather than the emotion that they evoke. Through this connection, companies form an emotional buffer that can be invaluable in times of crisis. 

Clear and consistent communication is a necessity. Even among the top 10 companies in CR, the levels of brand expressiveness are low. With only 22% of the general public agreeing that companies communicate in a relevant matter, there is ample opportunity for companies to communicate their corporate purpose. This will aid companies in aligning corporate reputation perception with reality. 

Leaders make a difference. With leaders such as Engie’s Isabelle Kocher voicing her views on female leadership,  and industrialist Jean-Dominique Senard taking initiative to reconcile business and society goals through social and environmental issue integration in business; corporate leaders can have a tremendous impact on CR. In fact, companies that lead in CR attain a strong leadership score that is 10.5-points higher than those who do not make it in the top 50 CR ranking in France (Figure 5). 

Figure 5: Leadership Score for Top 10 in CR vs. Not in the Top 50 

Figure 5: Leadership Score for Top 10 in CR vs. Not in the Top 50

 

Work to be done in CR. In France the trends in CR importance and performance mimic those of the global. Companies have average scores across all CR attributes, and while performing the best in some of the key ones such as positive influence, fairness, and ethical behavior, companies are lagging in being perceived as open and transparent – a key driver among the CR attributes. 

Figure 6: CR Attributes Importance vs. CR Attribute Scores for the Top 50 in CR
 

Figure 6: CR Attributes Importance vs. CR Attribute Scores for the Top 50 in CR

 

Access our 2018 France Corporate Responsibility Research or contact us to learn more about your company’s reputation and corporate responsibility scores. 

Ana Angelovska

Ana Angelovska
Research Director
Reputation Institute                                   
aangelovska@reputationinstitute.com

 

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